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Duke in the WNBA: Alana Beard returns, Jasmine Thomas leads record win streak

Despite Sunday's loss to the Chicago Sky, Jasmine Thomas and the Connecticut Sun still hold the WNBA's best record at 9-2
Despite Sunday's loss to the Chicago Sky, Jasmine Thomas and the Connecticut Sun still hold the WNBA's best record at 9-2

Each week, the Blue Zone takes a look at the seven former Blue Devils currently playing across four WNBA teams this season. This week we take you inside Karima Christmas-Kelly's scoring outbreak, Alana Beard's return and the Connecticut Sun's franchise-record home winning streak.

Lexie Brown and Karima Christmas-Kelly, Minnesota Lynx

After four consecutive losses, the Minnesota Lynx looked to get back in the win column for the first time since June 6. That win came June 22, as the Lynx used a 28-point third quarter to take the victory 92-83 against the New York Liberty. After missing the first three games of the season, Karima Christmas-Kelly recorded her best performance to date, as the nine-year pro scored a season-high 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting in 15 minutes. The former Blue Devil converted two of her three shots from long range and picked up a steal. The younger former Duke player on the team, Lexie Brown, made a field goal and all three of her free throws in 14 minutes to finish with five points.

Upcoming: June 25 at Indiana Fever; June 30 at Dallas Wings

Alana Beard and Chelsea Gray, Los Angeles Sparks

On June 18, the Sparks fell to the Washington Mystics 52-81. In 27 minutes of play, Chelsea Gray registered eight points on 4-of-12 shooting and seven rebounds. The Sparks point guard also dished out a pair of assists. Alana Beard was ruled out with a leg injury.

The Sparks were back in action three days later on the road against the Seattle Storm. In the 62-84 defeat, Beard made her return to the hardwood. After missing all but the season opener, the two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year scored eight points on 3-of-6 shooting. She also knocked down her only two free throws while assisting on two baskets and bringing down three rebounds. Gray scored seven points with a made 3-pointer and an an assist. The starting point guard also finished with a pair of boards and a steal in 25 minutes.

The second and final game of Los Angeles’ road trip brought the Sparks to Phoenix to take on the Mercury. But the Sparks were unable to get the victory June 23 as the Mercury took the win 82-72. Gray scored seven points on three free throws and two made field goals. The two-time All-Star also recorded seven assists, three rebounds and a steal. Beard had two assists and a rebound in a scoreless outing.

Upcoming: June 27 vs. Las Vegas Aces; June 30 vs. Chicago Sky

Jasmine Thomas, Connecticut Sun

Coming off a six-game win streak, the Connecticut Sun hosted the Atlanta Dream for a Friday night home matchup June 21. And after holding off the Dream 86-76 behind Jasmine Thomas’ 13 points and season-high nine assists, the Sun extended that streak to seven. On top of her near double-double, the Connecticut point guard finished with five rebounds and a 3-pointer in a season-high 33 minutes. The victory also extended the Sun's franchise-record, regular-season home winning streak to 13 games.

On June 23, the seven-game win streak came to an end, as the Sky took out the Sun 93-75 in Chicago. Thomas followed up her nine-assist game with seven more dimes two days later. She also dropped in a pair of triples and free throws to go along with two steals in 27 minutes.

Upcoming: June 26 at Dallas Wings; June 29 at Washington Mystics

Elizabeth Williams and Haley Peters, Atlanta Dream

In 30 minutes of play June 19, Elizabeth Williams reached double figures in points for the second straight game, as the Atlanta Dream defeated the Indiana Fever 88-78. The Dream’s starting center scored 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting and 4-of-7 from the charity stripe. Williams also recorded four rebounds and an assist to accompany a pair of steals and blocks.

Williams was back on the floor two nights later, but the Dream lost to the Sun 76-86. The former Blue Devil scored four points on two made baskets, recording three rebounds as well. Williams also finished with a steal and an assist in 24 minutes.

Concluding their third game in five days, the Dream hosted the Washington Mystics in a Sunday matinee. Williams’ team fell 73-89 in Atlanta as the Mystics outscored the Dream 28-7 in the third quarter. The 2015 fourth overall pick, who also celebrated her birthday Sunday, contributed eight points on 4-for-6 shooting in 26 minutes. Williams also brought down three rebounds and blocked one shot. Haley Peters did not play this week.

Upcoming: June 30 vs. New York Liberty


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